Child custody is one of the most distressing concerns for anyone going through a divorce. When a marriage breaks down, anxiety about the well-being of one’s children is natural. With Singapore’s divorce laws being very specific, hiring a divorce lawyer is essential.

It is important to know the difference between child custody and care and control. While the parent granted the former is allowed to take major decisions on behalf of the child, care and control is for daily matters. To know more, read one.

Kinds of Child Custody

Generally, Singapore courts give 4 kinds of orders for child custody. They are:
1. Joint custody, where both parents are directed to make key decisions concerning the child with mutual cooperation. This is the most common child custody order in Singapore.
2. Sole custody, where only the parent with the custody is allowed to make decisions regarding the child. This custody order is usually given in cases where hostility between the parents has reached irreparability, and there has been absolute breakdown of communication. This is also given in cases of child abuse by one parent, or where one parent voluntarily foregoes custody upon consultation with the divorce lawyer.
3. Under split custody, custody of children is split between the parents. However, courts are generally reluctant to award split custody as siblings provide emotional support to each other.
4. Hybrid custody orders one parent to take decisions pertaining to the welfare of the child, with due consent from the other parent.

Factors for Deciding Custody

Custody in Singapore is usually decided using a factor called ‘welfare principle’, which refers to determining the best arrangement for the child. This is determined not just in terms of physical comfort or financial convenience, but the quality of upbringing and the degree affection with either parent. Judges usually ask for social service reports and order counseling sessions to decide the kind of custody to be awarded. Other non-exhaustive factors include

• The wishes of the child
• The wishes of the parents
• Primary caregiver during the child’s formative years
• Financial resources of the parents
• Awarding of Care & Control

In Singapore, it is often the mothers that receive care and control of the child. If you’re a father and wish to get complete custody of your child, it is imperative to hire a good divorce lawyer. However, in case of the mother being careless and abusive, courts generally order evaluation reports. However, this is a very rare instance, so fathers are advised to pursue shared care and control instead.

Awarding of Access

Access is granted to that parent who doesn’t get care and control of the child. Generally, fathers get reasonable and fair access times, where both ‘fair’ and ‘reasonable’ are determined by the court. Such orders are generally unsupervised, and it is left to both parents to decide the quantum of access and the visitation times. When courts decide the quantum of access, it generally depends on the child’s wishes and needs and the history of the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent.